Looking for motivation to run? Sign up for a race (and pick up some cool gear too)

It’s amazing how quickly expectations can change and perceived limitations can be expanded. I remember crossing the finish line of my first half marathon in 2010 and thinking there was no way I’d ever run a full marathon. “If somebody told me to go do that again right now,” I said to my wife after the 2010 Columbus Half, “I’d punch them in the throat.” A little extreme, perhaps, but at the time, it was an honest reaction to the horrifying thought of finishing a 13.1-mile race and turning around to do it all over again. Not a chance.

Soon after Columbus, though, I signed up for my second half marathon and started to more seriously consider running a full. What changed? Eventually, the exhaustion and nausea from that first race faded and I realized that I was now as intimidated by the thought of running a full marathon as I initially had been by the thought of running a half. Once I began training for Columbus, though, and my mileage started creeping toward double digits, that 13.1-mile target felt less and less daunting. I understood that race day would still be a challenge, especially if I had any chance of hitting my target time, but with each bump in mileage during my training, my confidence continued to grow. With that experience under my belt, I knew the same thing would happen while training for a full marathon.

That faith convinced me to take the plunge and sign up for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Shortly after clicking “submit” on the online entry form, my faith had vanished. What had I just done? I could barely drag my carcass across the line for a half marathon; what made me think I could double up for a full? But I was committed, thanks in no small part to the $145 entry fee, so I mapped out my training plan and set to work. Sure enough, once my long runs crept up to 12, 14 and 16 miles, that faith returned and then grew in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, race day went unexpectedly awry for a couple reasons, but I finished. A few weeks later, with the bad taste of the disappointing race still in my mouth, I signed up for the Phoenix Marathon in January, and a couple days after that, I received an invitation to run the Tokyo Marathon in February as part of the international press tour. Sure, why not?!

Within about a year, I went from being terrified by the thought of running a full marathon to finishing three in the span of four months. The idea seemed crazy at the time, but I stayed true to my training and finished Phoenix and Tokyo with relatively respectable times. Now I know that, with the proper time and amount of training, any goal is possible. However, it seems I’m only able to carve out the time needed for the proper training when I click that “submit” button and sign up for a race. It worked for Columbus and Chicago, and it worked again when I signed up for the Akron Half Marathon recently. I had intended to take a short break after Tokyo to allow my body some time to rest up, but that “short break” wound up lasting about five months. I kept trying to kickstart my training again but there were always more important things to do.

Then I promised a friend that I’d run the Akron Half on September 29 if he signed up as well. It would be his first half marathon, my fifth, and that promise wound up being the motivation we both needed. I only squeezed in about two months of training so I wasn’t in the kind of shape I’d like to be in for a big race, but I still finished pretty well this past weekend and, more importantly, I challenged myself again and thoroughly enjoyed the race.

Have you been thinking about running a full or half marathon, or even just a 5K or 10K, but haven’t found the courage to hit that “submit” button? You’ll be amazed by how motivated you become when you finally sign up for that big race, and even more surprised by the surge in confidence you’ll enjoy once you fully commit to your training and start logging those miles.

In my preparation for the Akron Half, I had the pleasure of trying out a few different products that added a little something extra to this round of training. The latest, greatest gizmo or accessory won’t magically turn you into a world-class runner, but it can definitely help you improve along the way or just make the training seem a little less grueling.

PYLE GPS SPORTS WATCH

The majority of my competitive running came during my high school days, long before the advent of GPS devices, so I always measured my training runs the old-fashioned way: by driving the route and hoping for the best. I started using GPS apps on my iPhone for more accurate tracking but found that to be a hassle, particularly when I needed to check my mileage during the run. This Pyle GPS Sports Watch proved to be the perfect solution.

The watch comes with a 2.4 GHz digitally coded wireless heart rate monitor that you strap to your chest during a run, bike ride or other physical activity. For me, though, the GPS tracking and customizable displays were the biggest draws. The watch has four main modes: Compass, Time, Navigation and Workout. Workout mode works with the navigation system to record and display information such as distance traveled, average pace, workout duration, calories burned, heart rate and more. Even better, you can choose what data is displayed in each of the three main zones of the workout mode. For example, knowing what I needed to average per mile in the Akron Half to hit my target time, I programmed the watch to display my pace in the main zone, with the overall time in the top zone and the distance traveled at the bottom. This kind of customizable functionality makes the Pyle GPS Sports Watch that much more useful for whatever activity you have planned.

Water resistant up to 30 meters underwater and containing a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, this compact wrist computer made my training much more effective and precise. You can even use the watch to help plan your route and then analyze your workouts afterward. It takes a while to get the hang of all the bells and whistles, but you’ll soon see that it’s all time well spent.

JAYBIRD WIRELESS BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES

Some people enjoy running with music, and some people simply can’t stand running without the distraction that their music provides. I, on the other hand, find the distraction…well, distracting. I often zone out if I’m listening to music during my runs and find at the end of my workout that my pace is typically slower in those cases. That’s not such a bad thing when I am simply putting in some long miles where pace doesn’t matter much and the distraction would be welcomed, though, and it was on one such run where I popped on these wireless Jaybird Sportsband Bluetooth headphones, paired them with my iPhone and hit the pavement.

I initially was worried that the headphones would become uncomfortable after such a long run and maybe slide out of place, but they sat snugly and comfortably on my ears throughout. Integrated controls on the Sportsband allow you to easily control the music (play, pause, skip and volume control) with a click, and it’s equipped with apt-X audio codec for pristine sound quality with plenty of kick. The Jaybird comes with a lifetime warranty against sweat, its rechargeable battery allows for up to eight hours of music time, and with its concealed microphone, it can also be used as a Bluetooth headset for your phone. In short, these sleek headphones are awesome whether you’re on a run, cutting the grass or just taking care of some chores around the house.

ADIZERO FEATHER 2

Runners are particular; about their training schedules, their pre-race meals, the kind of energy gel they use, their choice of socks, their race-day routine, you name it. Most significantly, though, they’re particular about their running shoes. I’m no different: I find a shoe that I like, and I usually stick with it. If they hold up well to all the miles, if they’re comfortable and, of course, if I remain injury-free while using them, I’ll keep coming back to the same shoe company, and often the same shoe, for years. So in the interest of full disclosure, I am not an Adidas runner. I generally like Adidas for my everyday tennis shoes but had never run in a pair when the 6.7-ounce adizero Feather 2 arrived at my front door.

Obviously, the weight of the shoe first caught my eye. I love a lightweight running shoe, particularly near the end of a long training run or race, and these adizero Feathers are lighter than my beloved trainers of choice by a full pound. Wow. In fact, they’re one of the lightest everyday running shoes on the market thanks to the SprintWeb mesh construction, which significantly reduces weight while combining excellent breathability with support and comfort. As the cherry on top, the adizero Feather 2 comes in eight slick color combinations — I love the flash of my blue/orange pair, and there’s bound to be a color combo perfect for you.

With so much going for it, the adizero Feather 2 certainly grabbed my attention. I can’t claim that I’m ready to make the switch – what can I say, I’m stubborn – but the lightweight makeup, comfort and style of the adizero Feather 2 make it a trainer to be reckoned with.

  

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Marathon Mission: Complete

I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was sitting against a fence, shivering, my calves tied into knots and my hip flexors threatening to burst into flames, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I’d force my eyes open, take a sip from the water bottle I’d been handed after I crossed the finish line, and then my eyes would slide shut again. Open, sip, repeat.

At one point, a concerned medic approached me. “Everything OK?” he asked. I forced a smile, told him I was fine, just needed to rest, and then I gave in. I shut my eyes once more and drifted off, maybe for 30 seconds, maybe for 10 minutes. I’d never been overwhelmed by the urge to sleep after a race, but I’d also never run a full marathon. I finished (just barely) the Chicago Marathon in October, but as I sat against that fence in the chute for the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, I could finally say that I had run a marathon. Well, once I woke up, I could say it.

In my first post for this Runner’s Journal series, called “Why Run?”, I laid out some of the reasons I had been drawn back to the sport I’d abandoned in the 15 years since high school. Among those reasons, I wrote:

“I run to challenge myself, to set a goal and accomplish that goal. I run to find my limits and expand them, to redefine my comfort zone, to defy that voice inside my head that tells me my legs hurt too much and my lungs can’t take any more. I run to prove to myself that I can accomplish anything if I’m willing to work hard enough.”

The 3 hours and 44 minutes I spent running through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe epitomized that paragraph. It was most definitely a challenge to accomplish my goal of running a full marathon. I blew past my limits and bulldozed my comfort zone during the race, and did my best to ignore “that voice” for the final six miles or so. I set out to run the whole race, and save for a handful of quick pit stops to guzzle some water or Gatorade, I did just that, even when “that voice” was pleading for a break at mile 24. I kept my feet moving, refused to walk, and crossed the finish line almost an hour faster than I did in Chicago last October. Then I took a nap.

I won’t pretend that I accomplished anything monumentally profound last weekend. Heck, it seems everyone is running marathons and half marathons these days. But it was a significant personal achievement, a moment I won’t ever forget, a moment I once thought would never happen, and yet there I was in the chute, medal in hand, mission accomplished. I was sleeping, but I was there.

I didn’t think I could, until I did

“I run to find my limits and expand them.” In hindsight, this line is perhaps the most accurate in the above paragraph. I remember how awful I felt after finishing my first half marathon, and how fantastic I felt seven months later after my third. My body wasn’t ready for 13.1 miles in Columbus, but by Cleveland, it knew what to expect and I cruised to a PR.

Last Sunday, my body was toast. I crossed the line sore, nauseous, thirsty and exhausted, certain I couldn’t have run another 10 feet. That’s exactly how I felt after my first half marathon. Now, a 13-mile run qualifies as an easy day. Will the pattern hold next month when I hop onto a plane to run the Tokyo Marathon?

Man, I hope so.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Tokyo will be easy just because I finished the Arizona Marathon, but it should be easier. Not only will my body be better conditioned to handle 26.2 miles, but perhaps more importantly, I now know that I can, in fact, run a full marathon. Clearing that mental hurdle is huge. Telling yourself you can do something is one thing, but proving to yourself that you can do it is another.

At the expo the day before the race, I bought a shirt that said “Inspired to Run” on the back. Those three words sum things up beautifully for me. The act of running – of hitting the pavement or treadmill several times a week, braving the elements in the dead of winter or peak of summer, logging mile after mile after mile on lonely roads and rolling trails – isn’t a whole lot of fun. It’s not easy either. But it’s damn sure rewarding.

I’ve accomplished things during these two years of running that I never thought were possible. In about five weeks, I’ll add one more item to the list when I run a marathon in Tokyo. That’s incredible to me. And it’s no coincidence that, with each mental hurdle I’ve cleared in my training, my confidence in other areas of life has soared as well, driving me to pursue other personal and professional endeavors that once seemed out of reach and unattainable.

That may sound corny, but it’s the truth. There’s a reason running has exploded in popularity over the last decade. There’s a reason I have friends and family members emailing me for beginner training tips or advice on picking their first pair of running shoes (I’m no expert on either subject, by the way). There’s a reason people like my aunt, who ran her first marathon last year at the age of 53, fall in love with the sport. She’s done a bunch of half marathons, some sprint triathlons, joined a team for Ragnar last year, and probably accomplished so many other things that I don’t even know about. She also completed her second marathon in Arizona last weekend, and was thrilled to PR by about three minutes. That’s what it’s all about.

I am a marathoner. I had to wait three months longer than anticipated to be able to say that, but it doesn’t make it any less sweet. I can’t relax yet, though, not with the Tokyo Marathon on the horizon. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I pick my routine back up Sunday with an easy five miler, but there’s only one way to find out.

  

The Marathon Mulligan (and lessons learned along the way)

I should have been done. When I signed up for the 2011 Chicago Marathon – my first full marathon – I did so fully intending to take a well-deserved break afterward. I wasn’t going to stop running completely, but I was ready to hop off the marathon training-go-round after eight months of speed work, long runs, hill workouts and even longer runs. I was excited for the race, and excited for the rest.

Then I had a Chicago-style meltdown, finishing the marathon more than an hour slower than my goal, and my plan changed. Before the race, I wasn’t sure if I would run another marathon. Immediately after the race, I swore up and down that I would never run another #@*$! marathon again. A week later, I was online looking for a winter race that fit my schedule, understanding Chicago would forever haunt me if I didn’t give myself a chance at redemption. I settled on the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, strapped on my running shoes and reluctantly started training again.

When I cross the finish line in Phoenix Sunday morning (hopefully in 3:30 or faster), I will have finished two marathons within three months of each other. It’s a bit unbelievable considering how intimidating the thought of running 26.2 miles seemed to me at this time last year, but things get even crazier.

I learned just before Christmas that I’ve been accepted onto the press tour for the 2012 Tokyo Marathon. One catch: Writers on the tour are required to run the race. I knew it would be a challenge to run another marathon a mere six weeks after Arizona – and still only four months after Chicago – but that’s not an opportunity you pass up. That’s what my brain said, anyway; my body was already begging for mercy.

Of course, I won’t be the first guy to run two marathons in six weeks. In fact, there are tons of runners who have run multiple marathons and/or ultramarathons in back-to-back-to-back-(-to-back-to-back…) weekends. I call those kinds of runners freaking nuts. Or maybe inspirational. Probably a little of both, come to think of it. I’m not of that caliber, however, so I’m more than a little…curious…to see how I pull this one off.

As I prepare for the start of my marathon double-header in Phoenix this weekend, I took the time to go through some of the lessons I’ve learned thus far in my training. Some of these are things I already knew but were driven home during the hundreds of miles of falling footsteps over the past year, while others were new lessons that cropped up along the way. I plan on adding to this list after the Tokyo Marathon, but for now, here are five I’ll take with me to the starting line this weekend.

Nothing new on race day. I figured I’d start with the most important lesson since I had to learn it the hard way. I’d heard this “rule” many times before but thought it was more a case of playing it safe than anything else. How much could a different type of food or sports drink really affect you on race day? I never much worried about small details like that and I didn’t want to start micromanaging now. Then I had to take Tylenol with codeine to help me sleep through my shoulder injury during the week leading up to the Chicago Marathon, which I later learned led to my disastrous finish (codeine is known to cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance). Prior to each of my first two half marathons, I had a Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bar for some added pre-race nutrition even though I’d never before eaten one, prior to a race or otherwise. It took me several months to realize the Clif Bar was the source of my severe stomach discomfort after both races, a situation I (thankfully) haven’t had to replay since eliminating Clif Bars from my routine.

A friend asked me about a month ago if she should try running her half marathon that weekend in compression tights. She had used compression socks after a race but had never run in any sort of compression equipment. My advice: nothing new on race day. I said it probably wouldn’t hurt her to run in the compression tights but I strongly recommended that she not test that theory during a 13-mile race. You never know how your body will react to any sort of change to your routine, and the worst possible time to experiment is on race day. If you’re trying a new type of energy gel or sports drink, breaking in some new equipment, or anything of the sort, do yourself a favor and first test it on a training run. Race day is crazy enough without throwing a bunch of unknown variables into the pot.

You only have so much control. I was healthy, confident and excited leading into the Chicago Marathon, then a freak injury to a nerve in my shoulder wrecked everything. No matter how methodically you set up your training routine, how devoutly you stick to your plan, or how great you feel during your training, some things are simply out of your control. You may roll your ankle or come down with a nasty cold a week before your race. Oh well. The only thing you can do at that point is determine whether or not you can still run, and then do your best under the circumstances. That’s precisely what I did for Chicago, and what I did in Cleveland when dealing with a knee injury (see below). I’m about as healthy as I could hope for heading into Phoenix, and I’m just hoping I stay that way for a few more days. And then six more weeks after that.

Run, then race. I went into the Cleveland Half Marathon last May with a mysterious knee injury that had me wondering if I’d even be able to finish. My training leading into the race had been erratic because of the injury, so I decided to run the first 10 miles at a relaxed pace in hopes of having enough left in the tank to finish strong. This time, the plan worked to perfection. I came through each mile at a steady 7:15 pace and after I passed the 10-mile mark, I found another gear and cruised to a PR of 1:32:51. In hindsight, I probably could have taken off a little sooner but I chose to play it conservatively and was obviously thrilled with the results. By taking the time to settle in early, I gave myself an opportunity to truly race the final quarter. The opposite approach, of course, is to go out too aggressively, face plant around the midway point and then drag your sorry carcass across the finish line. I did that in Virginia Beach a couple months later. I’ll be following Plan A this weekend.

My form is a work in progress. My high school coach told me once that I had the best form on our team. I took that to mean I didn’t need to improve in that area. Wrong. After reading (and loving) the book “Born to Run,” I picked up a pair of Saucony Kinvara (a lightweight, minimalist-type shoe with a low heel-toe drop) and began shortening my stride, quickening my turnover rate and focusing on hitting the ground with my midfoot rather than my heel. My knee almost immediately felt better. While doing a track workout with a neighbor a couple months ago, he mentioned that I should try dropping my arms a bit to help my breathing and loosen me up. Now my shoulders aren’t nearly as tight after a run as they used to be. I still catch myself striding too far or lifting my arms during runs, but I just readjust and instantly feel the benefits of my improved form. It takes a lot of research and field work to find what’s best for you, but Runner’s World is a great place to start.

I love owning a treadmill. This last one seems a little strange coming on the heels of my last post about winter running, but as a work-from-home father of three, having a reliable treadmill in my basement has been a godsend. I still try to get outside as often as possible, but I’m no longer hamstrung by poor weather conditions or other people’s schedules. Sure, it’s boring, but Netflix has been a fine running partner for me since buying our NordicTrack C900 last month, and while it will surely collect a bit of dust in the spring, summer and fall, I’ll run it ragged every winter. Using a treadmill at your local gym also works, but it’s not nearly as convenient as having one at home. Even better, I’ve done two 10-mile runs on my C900 and am pretty confident I could tack a few more miles on in a pinch.

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Be sure to check back next week for my recap of the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and in February I’ll kick off my Tokyo Marathon coverage as I learn just how well my body can handle two marathons in six weeks!

Bullz-Eye.com editor in chief Jamey Codding ran competitively in high school, took a brief 15-year breather, and then came back to run four half marathons and a full marathon in one calendar year. Read all of his Runner’s Journal posts, including his Chicago Marathon recap, and learn why he runs.

  

Training for Marathon #1: Hydration and nutrition

It’s no secret that you need plenty of water before and after a run, but what about during? And while most runners know all about carbo-loading with a big plate of pasta the night before a race, trying to figure out whether you need GU energy gels (pronounced “Goo”) or some other form of in-race nutrition to keep you chugging through the finish line can lead to some tricky trial-and-error experimentation during your training. To GU or not to GU? That is the question.

I’ve put in a fair number of miles over the years, but prior to competing in my first half marathon, the farthest I’d ever run was 11 miles. In fact, during my heaviest volume days in high school, most training runs topped out around six miles and races were anywhere from a half mile to a 5K, or 3.1 miles. Because of that, I never had to worry about in-race hydration and nutrition – by eating well the night before and taking in plenty of fluids prior to a race, my body was prepared for the moderate mileage it had grown accustomed to. Running 26.2 miles? Well, that’s a different story.

I first started looking into energy gels while training for the half last year. Also referred to as endurance or sports gels, these single-serving plastic packets of goopy carbohydrates typically contain some form of simple sugars like sucrose or fructose, and supply the body with calories and nutrients to help delay muscle fatigue while raising blood sugar levels and enhancing performance. The first and perhaps the most popular energy gel – the one you’ll likely see in sporting goods stores or during most longer races – is the previously mentioned GU. I didn’t know if I would need energy gel during the race, but since this would be my longest run ever, I figured I at least should consider it. The first thing I learned was that I needed a test run. Literally. No matter the brand, energy gels in general can cause gastrointestinal discomfort for some runners – most commonly cramping, bloating and/or diarrhea – so you’ll want to introduce them to your system during a long training run instead of a race setting, just to see how your body reacts.

I picked up a berry-flavored GU on the way to my final 10 miler and planned to take it about six miles in. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the note on the package about taking the gel with some water. I tore off the top of the packet and squeezed the thick, sticky, berry-flavored gel into my mouth. Instant cottonmouth. It was like trying to swallow the world’s thickest, sweetest cough syrup. A mile or so later, I felt slightly and briefly nauseous, but it was smooth sailing once that passed as I finished the final three miles strong despite my sticky lips and dry mouth. However, while my stomach handled the gel fine during the run, I had some problems afterwards and elected to pass on GU during the race a couple weeks later.

Two months after that, I had some stomach issues during another half marathon. In hindsight, several factors likely contributed to the problem, but my main suspect at the time was the GU I took at mile 7. I didn’t run very well in general that day so the GU may not have been to blame, but I certainly didn’t feel any better at the end of that race than I felt without any gel at the end of my first half. Frustrated and disappointed after my poor finish, I swore off energy gels for good. Then I signed up for the Chicago Marathon.

All runners are different, and all runners have different needs. Some have to stop at every water station to stay hydrated and healthy, while others blow through the stations without taking a drop. I’d always been in the second group, but I’ve also never run for three or four hours straight. One day, it dawned on me: I am going to need some kind of nutrition for the marathon. GU again?

Well, I recently gave GU another try but after mixed results, I turned to apple-cinnamon flavored Hammer Gel for a 14-mile training run last weekend. The Hammer Gel, which contains real fruit juice and no added simple sugars, wasn’t nearly as thick or sweet, making it much easier to swallow while cutting down on the cottonmouth, and it tasted pretty good to boot. I took a few sips of water from one of the bottles in my new hydration belt (more on that below) and, after another slight but brief bout of queasiness, I finished the second half of my run rather well. Once it was clear later that day that my stomach had no problem with the Hammer Gel, I had officially found my in-race nutrition.

There are, of course, dozens of other options available to the running public, from Clif Shots and Accel Gel to PowerBar Gel and Carb Boom. You can also try chewable products like GU Chomps, Clif Shot Bloks, Sport Beans and even regular ol’ gummy bears. I’ve had Sport Beans and GU Chomps, but only before runs because I find that chewing while I’m running disrupts my breathing and rhythm. Some runners use Honey Stinger gel or simply grab single-serve packets of honey for their long runs, while others create their own homemade portable energy sources (a quick Google search will yield plenty of options for you DIYers). Most casual runners probably don’t need to consider energy gels or other forms of nutrition– they’re typically recommended for people running for 45 minutes or longer – but if you’re thinking about signing up for a big race (think 10K, half marathon or more), you probably will have to spend some time experimenting like I have to find a nutrition option that works for you, and don’t be afraid of a little homework. Different runners prefer different products – I have friends who swear by GU, some who love the Sport Beans and others who don’t like any of them. The web is littered with comparisons of these products, tips on how to take them, and a host of other issues you should consider while doing your research.

Hydration, on the other hand, is a little simpler. Every runner needs fluids, some just more frequently and in greater quantities than others. I don’t like holding anything when I run so water bottles aren’t an option, and I’ve never been particularly adept at drinking from the little cups they hand out at water stations – I usually end up spilling 97% down the front of my shirt and another 2% dribbles down my chin, allowing the remaining 1% to actually reach its intended destination. For those who choose to walk intermittently during a race, however, the stations are a perfect place to take a breather, rehydrate and maybe wash down some energy gel.

If, like me, you need an on-the-go solution to your hydration needs, there are plenty of options. You could go with a handheld water bottle for shorter runs, but that seems like the least effective option. I recently bought a Nathan Speed Waistpack with two 10oz bottles, knowing I’d need some help getting through my upcoming 16-, 18- and 20-mile training runs. I admit that it took a bit of time getting used to those two bottles sloshing around on my waist, but by my second long run, I barely noticed them. And when it came time to take my Hammer Gel, I had the water I needed to wash it all down. It may look and feel a little goofy at first, but if it gets the job done, who cares? There are an endless number of hydration belt choices out there with all sorts of various factors to consider, including comfort of fit, number of bottles and waist size.

If you need more water than a hydration belt offers, consider one of the Camelbak Hydration backpacks. I’ve never used one but have seen plenty of other runners with them, and customer feedback on sites like Amazon is overwhelmingly positive. An added bonus is the ability to stash essentials like keys, wallet and/or phone in your Camelbak. My recommendation would be to try on several of these packs and belts at your nearest running or sporting goods store to see how they feel, but you won’t know what works for you until you hit the road with one strapped to your hips or back.

So what about pre-race hydration and nutrition? Well, that’s a much bigger can of worms. I drink plenty of water and some Gatorade before a run, and will also have some coconut water between runs to help keep me hydrated consistently. On the morning of a race, I add Gatorade Prime to the water and standard Gatorade regimen. Food, of course, is much trickier and, like so many other factors, varies wildly from runner to runner. I recommend doing your own research on this subject and, as always, experimenting to find what works for you and what doesn’t because, as you’ll discover when you start increasing the length of your races and training runs, your needs are going to change along with the mileage. What worked for you on a two-mile jog or 5K race probably won’t be enough for a 10K or half marathon. And, I think it goes without saying, what works for a half marathon most certainly won’t work for a full.

Bullz-Eye.com editor in chief Jamey Codding ran competitively in high school, took a brief 15-year breather, and then came back to run his first half marathon last year. He’s currently training for his first full marathon, in Chicago on October 9. Only 44 days to go…but who’s counting, right?!

  

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